Constant Companion :: Compagnon constant

It’s a strange thing that every human being has a sort of dignity or wholeness in him, and out of that develops relationships to other human beings, tensions, misunderstandings, tenderness, coming in contact, touching and being touched, the cutting off of a contact and what happens then.
— Ingmar Bergman

Quebecers are so tired of the cold this winter. Today again it was windy, with a bright sunlight and -14C… brrr. Can’t wait for the warmth of spring’s kiss on my skin. A small line drawing of one of my Sansevieria plants that I have at home as I am planning on giving a few away… I have such a good green thumb that once in awhile I have to give some plants away as they are overtaking the space in my house. One of my plants has been a constant companion for 39 years and is now residing in my work office…

Je crois que les Québécois sont tous bien tannés de l’hiver glacial que nous avons eu… encore -14C aujourd’hui, avec de bons vents et un soleil éblouissant. J’ai tellement hâte de sentir le soleil sur ma peau! Voici une de mes plantes sansevieria et je commence à en avoir beaucoup, donc mes collègues de travail et amis vont en hériter. J’ai un très bon pouce vert, et j’ai même une plante qui est avec moi depuis 39 ans qui a été un compagnon constant pendant toute ces années. Elle réside à côté de moi dans mon bureau à ma job. 

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Rigaud, Québec, Canada


Celestial Events :: Événements célestes

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
like the spirit of love felt everywhere;
and each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley

The day has seen three rare celestial events: Solar Eclipse, Supermoon & Spring Equinox. A Supermoon, or perigee moon, occurs when the full moon flies on its orbit to its closest to the Earth, resulting in its largest apparent size as seen from Earth. The Spring Equinox is when daytime and night are of approximate equal duration. This painting I find a bit strange as I have not painted with watercolours for the past two weeks, and it shows. The top half of the painting is nice but the bottom half is lacking in finesse.

La journée nous a donné une éclipse solaire, un “Supermoon” et l’équinoxe du printemps. Cette lune arrive quand son orbite est la plus proche de la Terre, donnant l’illusion d’une Lune immense. L’équinoxe du printemps est quand le jour et la nuit ont la même durée. Cette peinture est un peu étrange n’ayant pas peint en aquarelles en deux semaines, et dans ce temps je suis rouillée. Le haut de la peinture est bien, mais le bas laisse à désirer… 

Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″ x 8″
Colours: New Gambodge, Alizarin Crimson & Indigo
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
St. George Road, Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Letters to a Young Poet ::

No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in ascent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature.
— Rainer Maria Rilke “Letters to a Young Poet”

I chose this quote today because I converted the question of writing to painting… what does this advice from Rilke do to you? Does it affect you as it affected me? These are very powerful words indeed.

Today I had my first oil painting workshop… I had never touched oil paints in my life and it was very very interesting. Some of the disadvantages is that the painting takes 2-3 days to dry, so I could not scan it and I had to take a photograph in my kitchen-studio (where the lighting is insufficient at night). This painting is not finished yet. One of the definite advantages is that you can take the whole day to tweek and repaint at your heart’s desire as it does not dry quickly, so the urgency of painting fast, as with watercolours, does not really exist as the paints take a long time to dry. In watercolours you must paint fast in order to keep it fresh, so this creates a sense of easy nervousness. We spent the whole day sharing stories and painting our skies… and it seems as though I painted 15 different skies as every time that I went over the painting, touching and tweeking, the sky changed and suddenly reappeared as a new painting. Wow! That was really nice and seemed as though the possibilities were infinite. I learned how to mix my paints before putting them on the canvas, all about Liquid Original, solvents, how to wash and store my paints (from fellow oil painters) and much more. The workshop that I took was with Gail Descoeurs, a talented artist from Québec, Canada and she is a very soft spoken person guiding us along, correcting us and painting with us too. Very nice workshop.

Aujourd’hui j’ai eu un atelier de peinture à l’huile avec Gail Descoeurs, une artiste reconnue qui vit à Rigaud. Nous avons pris la journée pour peindre un ciel et je peux dire que ce médium est tout à fait différent de l’aquarelle. Il y a des avantages et désavantages aux deux. Un des désavatanges est que la peinture à l’huile prend de 2-3 jours pour sécher, donc je ne pouvais pas scanner ma peinture ce soir… donc j’ai dû prendre une photo de mon studio-cuisine où la lumière est insuffisante pour ce style de photographie. Il m’a semblée que j’ai peint 15 ciels aujourd’hui sur le même canevas car à l’huile nous pouvons repeindre à l’infini couches sur couches…. donc le sentiment de méditer sur une peinture était bien présente et en plus, la conversation plaisante et agréable avec les autres peintures était tout à fait chaleureuse et agréable. Si vous aimeriez voir ce que Gail Descoeurs produit, voici son site web. Un atelier très agréable.

Paper: Canvas 12″ x 9″
Colours: Raw Sienna, Q. Rose, Cobalt Blue, Titanium White
From imagination: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Oh Rigaud my Rigaud ::

Some day we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture
and shake our heads.
How could we have ever believed
that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?
— Jane Goodall

Here is my beloved mountain of Rigaud, from another point of view. I have drawn this mountain many times and I have included the links to my previous posts… in summer, fall, & winter  and I am planning on painting it this spring as this is the only season that is missing. Usually I paint “live” meaning that I am in front of the subject, most of the time sitting in my car. Today I decided to use a reference photograph instead of painting it live in my kitchen-studio and as you can see, the “optical consistency” of my painting is off. There is a very good, lengthy and theoretical explanation for this on the Handprint Blog.  What it means is that my background watercolour paints are too diluted in the spruce near the road and the curb of the arms are too intense in comparison. This is what happens when you do not paint “live” in my point of view… your paintings are a bit off. There is a very good explanation by John Ruskin, who had an exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa last year that was outstanding.

“The one thing that you have to learn — the one power truly called that of painting, is to lay on any coloured substance, whatever its consistency may be, at once, of the correct tint you want, in the exact form you want, and in the exact quantity you want. That is painting.” John Ruskin.

Voici la montagne de Rigaud que j’aime tant. Je l’ai peinte plusieurs fois, l’été, l’automne et l’hiver et ce printemps je vais y aller car c’est la seule saison qui me manque. La plupart du temps je peins “live” ce qui veut dire que je suis en avant de mon sujet, habituellement assise dans mon char. Mais aujourd’hui j’ai pris une photo et je l’ai peinte de mon studio-cuisine pendant la soirée… et ma peinture est “off”. Le densité de mes peintures n’est pas correcte et il y a une bonne explication, qui est longue et théorique sur le site de Handprint

Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″ x 8″
Colours: Hensa Medium, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Alizarin Crimson & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Reference Photograph Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


Tools of the trade :: Les outils du métier

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

My husband has many tools galore, some of which I cannot fathom what they are used for and some others that are beautiful, and others quite scary with their projected strength. I myself do not have many tools… a paintbrush, a fountain pen and a computer mouse do the job pretty well… — As I am writing these pages, I have just realized that I have forgotten the most useful tool of all and my constant companions, which are books, along with Google. In my house I do not have one big section of bookshelves but I have many nooks and crannies where I store my books by category. I have a watercolour/Masters/watercolour techniques category that lie about in the same nook. I have a history/genealogy nook. I have a plants/ornithology/gardening/trees nook. I have an old books nook. Then I have a one huge bookshelf with graphic arts books. Another huge bookshelf with the books that I have already read laid out in alphabetical order, then another section in my bedroom of books that I have not read yet laid out in alphabetical order too… and many more, I dare say. So it is surprising that I forgot to include a book cover or pages within a book in this painting. I guess that it will be a for a next time. All in all, this makes up for many books in my house, and visitors do not really realize how many there are  -)

Voici les outils que j’utilise bien proche à tous les jours pendant l’année. Un pinceau pour les aquarelles, une plume fontaine et une souris d’ordinateur. Ce qui me surprend est le fait que j’ai totalement oublié de peindre deux autres outils que j’utilise beaucoup qui sont: les livres et Google. Dans ma maison je n’ai pas une immense bibliothèque avec tous les livres que je possède car je n’ai jamais vu l’utilité. Je préfère de beaucoup d’avoir des sections de ma maison dédiées à certains thèmes. Dans un coin du salon j’ai la catégorie aquarelles/maîtres/techniques de peintures. Dans un autre coin, histoire/généalogie… un autre coin géographie. Un autre coin reçoit les livres sous le thème des fleurs/oiseaux/nature/roches/arbres/oiseaux, etc. Dans ma chambre à coucher tous les livres que je dois lire. Une section DVD/Blu-Ray, etc. Dans une grande bibliothèque les livres de graphisme et une autre section tous les livres que j’ai lus dans le passé… fiou — ça fait beaucoup de livres.

Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″ x 8″
Colours: Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen
Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


The Artist’s Way & The Art Spirit…

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
— Pablo Picasso.

I have been reading two very good books on artists from two different viewpoints. The first book is by Robert Henri “The Art Spirit” which is written from the viewpoint of an art teacher speaking to his students, bringing in all of his experience and knowledge for them to grow into budding artists. The second book is from Julia Cameron “The Artist’s Way”. Robert Henri’s book is mainly for painters and cultural enthusiasts while Julia Cameron’s book is for all artists… from writers, poets, painters, art directors, etc. and is about bringing back creativity into our lives. Both books are incredible and are must-reads for anyone who is interested in an artistic path.

In Robert Henri’s book he talks about creating a homogeneous palette using only three (3) primary colours. By finding a good yellow, red and blue we can create 12 colours that are analogous to the Spectrum Band. “… take a true Red, Yellow and Blue as you can choose (primary). Mix neighbour with neighbour until you have three new notes, Orange “O”, Green “G” and Purple “P” (secondary). Set all six in a line and mix neighbour with neighbour until you have six (6) more — RO, OY, YG, GB, BP, PR”. You will end up with the diagram shown below.

For the past two years, the colour that I have been the least satisfied with are all of my Yellows. New Gambodge is fine for intense greens, but shaky elsewhere. The opacity of Cadmium Yellow really bothers me as I love transparency in watercolours. Aureolin Yellow has been ok, but a weak colour. So today I decided to try out one of Robert Henri’s exercise and decided to use three different yellows. The first row was mixed with Aureolin Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine. The second row was mixed with Hansa Light, and the third row with Hansa Medium. I am very satisfied with the intensity of the Hansa Medium and this new yellow is going to have a permanent status in my palette. It has just been upgraded -)))

Je suis en train de lire deux livres sur le monde artistique qui valent bien la peine d’être lus… et relus au courant d’une vie. Le premier est le libre de Robert Henri “The Art Spirit” qui est un livre raconté par un professeur de peinture — Robert Henri — qui parle à ses élèves de leur art et sur la vie artistique. Il y a des perles d’idées à toutes les deux pages! Le deuxième livre est le livre de Julia Cameron “The Artist’s Way” qui est un livre pour toutes sortes d’artistes…. écrivains, acteurs, poètes, peintres, sculpteurs, etc. et ce livre focalise sur le processus de la créativité et comment l’intégrer dans notre vie de tous les jours. Les deux livres sont indispensables, à mon point de vue, et ils devront être relus bien souvent au courant d’une vie.

Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″ x 8″
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Hansa Light, Hansa Medium, Alizarin Crimson & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen
Ink: Carbon Black
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Rembrandt ::

It is harder to see than to express. The whole value of art rests in the artist’s ability to see well into what is before him. Rembrandt was a man of great understanding. He had the rare power of seeing deep into the significance of things. A genius is one who can see. The others can often “draw” remarkably well. With the seer it is different. Nothing will do but the most precise statement. He must not only bend technique to his will, but he will invent technique that will especially fit his need. To study technique means to make it, to invent it. To take the raw material each time anew and twist it into shape. It must be made to serve a specific purpose. The same technique must never be used again. Each time it must be made new and fresh. 
— Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.

One of the thriving sailboat & yachting clubs is the Marina in Valleyfield as the water levels are monitored by the St. Lawrence Seaway permitting the passage of the great mercantile ocean liners that go up and down the Great Lakes and back to the sea, thus permitting boats to cover the distance of 1600 kilometres. Today was a beautiful, sunny and warm day for us and my heart welcomed it with open arms.

This pas Sunday I went to see with Guy the “Rembrandt from the National Gallery and Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam – An In the Gallery Presentation” which was amazing as the galleries’ curators spoke about the process of presenting such a show and weaved Rembrandt’s life story with the techniques that this great Master used, as well as showing us the details with very high resolution images… I was deeply touched.

Un des clubs de bateau à voile et de motorisés qui ne manque pas d’eau est la Marina de Valleyfield car la Voie maritime s’assure de garder un niveau suffisant pour que les gros navires salés et canadiens puissent voguer des Grands Lacs à la mer… 1600 kilomètres plus loin.

Dimanche passé moi et Guy sommes allés voir le film “Rembrandt from the National Gallery and Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam – An In the Gallery Presentation” qui était totalement incroyable. Démontrant la technique utilisée par ce grand maître, entremêlée avec l’histoire de sa vie et des images absolument phénoménales, j’étais bien émue.

Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″ x 8″
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Alizarin Crimson & Lapis Lazuli
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Valleyfield, Québec, Canada